Auto Racing | History favors Hendrick drivers
The good news for drivers chasing Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series is that five opportunities remain to cut...
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The good news for drivers chasing Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series is that five opportunities remain to cut into their lead and end their seasonlong domination.
The bad news is that the second half of the 10-race, 12-driver Chase for the Nextel Cup begins at compact Martinsville Speedway, a tricky track where the superiority of Gordon and Johnson is apparent.
The Hendrick Motorsports teammates have combined to win seven of the last nine races on the 0.526-mile oval, and both have good starting spots for today's Subway 500.
Gordon is on the pole, and Johnson will be a row behind, starting fourth. Gordon, a four-time series champion, leads Johnson by 68 points.
Clint Bowyer, third in points and 10 behind Johnson, starts 21st. The daunting task of making up ground is made all the more imposing by the competition, he said.
"It's not a back marker that you're trying to chase down, it's Jeff Gordon," Bowyer said of the man with 81 career victories. "And it's not only Jeff Gordon of two years ago where he was a top-10 car, it's Jeff Gordon where he's a top-three car about every weekend."
Gordon will be seeking his third victory in a row today and also has finished second, fifth and 11th in Chase races.
Johnson, meanwhile, has two top-five finishes in the Chase and will be seeking a season sweep of NASCAR's oldest, smallest circuit, and his third victory in a row at the track.
4th title in a row
SURFERS PARADISE, Australia — Needing merely to finish in 12th place or better, Formula One-bound Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais won the Lexmark Indy 300 to clinch his fourth straight Champ Car World Series driving title.
Justin Wilson finished second and Bruno Junqueira was third.
Bourdais became the first driver to win the race twice in its 17-year history. He also won in 2005.
"I can't be any happier," the 28-year-old Bourdais said. "I pushed really, really hard to get there."
Bourdais completed 61 laps on the 2.8-mile, 12-turn temporary street course in 1 hour, 45 minutes, 49.318 seconds and averaged 96.669 mph.
Bourdais will drive for the Toro Rosso team in Formula One next year.
• Mike Skinner took the lead and held off Jack Sprague for the final 66 laps, helped along by numerous cautions that made the Kroger 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville resemble a brawl.
The race was red-flagged with seven laps to go after an accident coming out of Turn 4 that involved at least nine trucks and left wreckage and fluid seemingly everywhere. The race went back to green for a three-lap dash to finish, and Skinner sailed off to his series-best fifth victory of the season. Fittingly, the final lap ended with one more pileup.
Skinner leads Ron Hornaday Jr., who was third in the race, by 11 points with four events left.
• Felipe Massa earned the pole for today's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in São Paulo, with overall leader Lewis Hamilton beside him in position to become Formula One's youngest champion.
Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso — Hamilton's rivals for the title — will start in the second row, with Raikkonen third and Alonso fourth. The Brazilian GP will decide the tightest F1 race for the championship in 21 years. The 22-year-old Hamilton has 107 points, four more than McLaren teammate Alonso and seven more than Raikkonen. A win is worth 10 points.
Hamilton can guarantee himself the title by finishing first or second.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.